Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)

If you remember the summer of '86 and you always had the radio on, then you'll remember that Owen Paul's My Favourite Waste Of Time was never off it. Personally, I didn't care for the song or the singer (weed in an outsize vest), but you couldn't escape it.

Which leaves me wondering: why do we never hear it now? It was a huge hit, number two IIRC, and was played to death. Now it's completely dropped off the radar. You could say the same for Rain Or Shine by Five Star (which I do have a soft spot for) or Let's Go All The Way by Sly Fox, another big hit that clogged up the airwaves that year.

What about Life In A Northern Town by The Dream Academy from the previous year? Or from the 70s Hey Fattie Bum-Bum by Carl Malcolm (perhaps un-PC now), Resurrection Shuffle by Ashton Gardner & Dyke, A Little Love and Understanding by Gilbert Becaud? All big - Top 10 - hits, now consigned to the pop graveyard. It's not because they're one hit wonders either. For example, you often hear Martha & the Muffins' Echo Beach. Even songs from the big groups have vanished into thin air. When was the last time you heard Belfast Child by Simple Minds coming out of your radio? Or Margherita Time by Quo? Or Big Ship by Cliff?

The reverse of this of course is that you're never more than 30 minutes away from Pride (In The Name Of Love) by U2 (though you never, ever hear The Fly) or Raspberry Beret by Prince (why do they never play Paisley Park?) or (God help us) Easy Lover by Phil Collins and Philip Bailey. You never hear Separate Lives!

So who decides what's trash and what's treasure? Is it us? Are we not requesting it enough on Chris Evans' All-Request Friday, the show that plays the bleedin' obvious week after week (Stuart Maconie always begs for something a little more leftfield when he sits in)? Or are we living in a world dictated by radio programmers who decide Girlie Girlie by Sophia George or Rain by The Cult are not for our ears?

I need my own radio station. Thank God for the ipod.


Matthew Rudd said...

Music testing, dear chap. Music testing. 100 people are put in a big room with a tick sheet, and lots of song snippets are played to them. They then tick the box that represents how much they recognise the song and those songs with the most ticks to the right go on playlists.

Five-Centres said...

Oh God, tell me it's not true. That's ghastly. People have got such short memories. But what music are they playing them in the first place?

Matthew Rudd said...

It would depend on the target audience of the radio station in question. It is possible to get a song on the radio via other methods - for example, a station I worked at played November Rain - all 8'53" of it - on a frequent basis because it was in the all-time top five videos selected by viewers of VH1.

office pest said...

Why not launch your own subscription internet radio station? [cue five part harmony chorus] "Ray-di-oh Fiiive Centerrres...playing Yesterday's Hits for Yooooouuuu".

I did suggest this to Andrew Collins recently, but he has, as usual, ignored it.

Five-Centres said...

If I knew how to do it I would, OP.

Andrew Collins isn't very good at answering readers' questions is he, though he did answer mine yesterday.

Planet Mondo said...

It's historical compression, where only the peaks count and trying to catching a floating ear with a familiar tune..It's a system that doesn't work for me, as I quickly become numb to the same overplayed anthems.

Planet Rock - has to be the worst offender. It's almost impossible to go for 30 minutes without Deep Purple, U2, Pink Floyd, Metallica or Alice Cooper cropping up.

Whatever happened to those shuffle stations that were doing so well in the States ?

Also Last.FM, (non radio based) is meant to be worth a go

Bright Ambassador said...

Owen Paul and Simple Minds' original drummer Brian McGee are brothers. No, I don't know why he's not called Owen McGee either.

Belfast Child was played on Steve Wright's Non-Stop Oldies the other week (although why it's called 'non-stop' is a mystery considering you hear Wright's stupid voice between every song). Perhaps you don't hear it so much because it was when they were at the height of their own self-importance (which is an awful lot of self-importance with Jim Kerr in the group).

Besides, I wouldn't want to hear any of them on All Request Friday considering he talks all over the intros, plays two minutes, and then talks all over the end of records. e.g. Rush's Spirit of Radio last Friday night. Mind you, he played that once and put some awful 'Cheese Alert' jingle all over the top of it. Like the cock he is.

Congratulations to Chris and his missus on the birth of their baby boy, Noah, by the way!

Five-Centres said...

Actually, Steve Wright's Non-Stop Oldies section is quite good, if you factor out Steve. I know what you mean about Planet Rock PM, so I stopped listening.

Cocktails said...

The best radio show for oldies, Five Centres, is Tony Blackburn on BBC Radio London, 12 - 2pm Sundays. He makes an point of playing songs which were once radio staples but have now fallen off the radar thanks to music testing. He is ace.

Five-Centres said...

Tony Blackburn, eh? WHo'd have thought he'd be radio's saviour.

Nick Tann said...

They weren't number ones. Only number ones get played. the bastards

Clair said...

I have spent a lot of today on Last FM, and am loving it. Choose an artist you love, then click on their radio station, which will select similar artists, many of whom you won't have heard, and you will be utterly delighted and enlightened. Can't recommend it highly enough.